How To Read The Path Signs And Evaluate The Path Level

The path signs of the Dolomites trails are different, but for the most they follow the guidelines of CAI (Alpine Italian Club), the historic mountaineering club that still owns many huts, and which is often responsible for information and maintenance of many alpine and dolomitic trails.

It is always very important to read all the path signs, to be sure to walk through the planned path. Also remember to check the correspondence between the signage you meet and the map you have in hand.
It is not uncommon to take old or wrong trails that suddenly ends or take you off the road.

The main signage is the vertical ones, and it is usually wooden signposts that provide information on: track number, main destinations, travel times.

Travel times are calculated on medium trained hikers.

If you are well trained you will probably spend a little less than indicated, and if you have children or people who are not trained you will need to calculate 30% more time at least, depending on the people.
There is also the horizontal signage, that is the characteristic white-red sign painted on rocks, trees or other elements of the environment .

Sometimes the sign also contains the number of the path. In case of paths where orientation is not easy, these signals are usually very close to each other, so that they can be seen one after the other. On an easy-going path they are more workout.

If you do not meet any horizontal sign for 10-15 minutes, consider that you could have taken the wrong path.

The “Little Men”

“Ometti” is the Italian word (that in English can sound as “Little Men”) used for the small stone pyramids that are used to indicate the path where orientation is difficult due to the lack of reference points, for example on stone, scree or near the peaks, where vegetation is completely absent.
They indicate the right path, so when you go to the side, you can add some stone so that they are always visible!

Other Signals

It is common to find on the trees other signs of yellow or blue colour, or black. Do not consider them, these are signs used by foresters or forest guards and do not in any way concern your path.

Scale of difficult

International books, guides and sometimes topographic maps usually indicate the paths according to the following table:

T for tourist path
Itinerary mule tracks or wide trails. Tracks generally are not long, do not have any orientation problem, and do not require a specific workout, except that typical of the walk.

H (or E) for hiking path
Hikers Itineraries on trails or obvious traces in various kinds of land (pastures, debris, stone …). They require hiking equipment and sufficient orientation and walking skills even for a few hours.

EE for expert hikers
They are generally marked off roads but with some difficulty: the terrain can be made up of slippery slopes of grass, mixed with rocks and grass, stone, mild snowy slopes or even easy climbing rocky passages (use of hands at some points). They require a discreet acquaintance from the Alpine environment, safe pace and no dizziness. Physical preparation must be adapted to a fairly continuous day.

EEA for equipped expert hikers.
Equipment paths is necessary, requiring the use of self-insurance devices. This symbol in the Dolmites is often used for the “vie ferrate”

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About Author

I am a passionate hiker of Dolomites, the Alps subgroup settled in the Eastern area of Italy and UNESCO heritage. Hiking in this particular and extended mountain area is really exciting and full of any kind of satisfaction. I started to hike on Dolomites since I was a child, and I am writing this blog to let all English speaking hikers to take easily informations and useful details to plan their hike on Dolomites.


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